Their Brother’s Keeper

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No four walls can compare to the mental prison Josh Brent lives in.

Last week, the Dallas Cowboys were placed in the unenviable position of burying teammate Jerry Brown and wondering how to deal with the person responsible for his death.

Under normal circumstances the answers vary, but when the man responsible is teammate Josh Brent, the Cowboys chose to circle the wagons.


Friends and family are offering shoulders for Josh Brent to lean on.

In a split second Josh Brent changed the lives of thousands. In no way was the change for the better. Brent was drunk the night he flipped his SUV on a Dallas road The one vehicle accident killed best friend, teammate and expectant father Jerry Brown. Imagine having to own up to a decision that cost someone you consider a brother or sister their life.

Let that sink in for a minute…

How do you face the people who helped shape that person? Look at his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. What about those whose lives have been affected by him? Try facing his friends, neighbors, cousins maybe even a spouse and child(ren). It’s a gauntlet of grief that could have been avoided.

Since that day, how many times did Josh Brent wish it was him instead of his teammate laid out at the team memorial? How fragile was Brent’s mental state? Has he been or is he still suicidal?

Following the accident, Jerry Brown’s mother and grandmother realized the impact of their son’s life on Brent and the unbearable weight of grief he’s under. They spoke eloquently with forgiveness in their heart. Their words were unscripted, direct and stern. Their love and pain for both of these young men was genuine. And while forgiveness is important, the speed by which it comes varies. There are people in both families who will never seek to forgive Josh Brent for his actions that night. While some just need time to heal.

During the team memorial service and funeral, Brent sat with the Brown family. A date with a judge on charges of intoxication manslaughter and an uncertain future are still forthcoming. The time spent on the front row with a grieving family who only tightened their embrace around him was memorable, even liberating.

As Week 15 approached, the Dallas Cowboys announced they were placing Brent on reserve/non football illness list. No pink slip, no coaches phone call and no turning in his playbook.

What America saw on Sunday called the decision of America’s Team into question.

Josh Brent was on the sidelines with his Cowboys teammates in their 27-24 overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Once again it was done with the urging of Jerry Brown’s mother Stacey Jackson.

“Our team and our players wanted him today on the sideline,” Jones said Sunday, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Jerry’s mother (Stacey Jackson) asked us directly as a group. She said, ‘Support him. Help him. He needs your help. Jerry wants that. I want that.’ His teammates asked him to come and be down there with them.”

Seeing Brent among his teammates didn’t sit well with everyone. CBS NFL analyst Boomer Esiason called Brent’s presence “disgraceful” during Sunday’s broadcast. “Football players are an example, and Josh Brent is the worst of those examples,” Esiason said, according to the Star-Telegram.

Never confuse Boomer Esiason with anyone you’d share a foxhole with.

Jerry Jones stood by the decision to have Brent on the sidelines despite not knowing until the game was underway. As word spread of Brent being on the team’s sideline, the defensive lineman left the field in the 3rd quarter.

The Cowboys did the right thing concerning their teammate. If the decision to have him on the sidelines was not accepted by 100 percent of the players, there was no inkling of conflict from what we witnessed on Sunday. I’m sure the sight of him on the sidelines rubbed some people the wrong way, and that’s understandable. Boomer Esiason’s comments were out of line because while Brent’s actions were foolish and inexcusable, he didn’t mean for Jerry Brown to die that night. The family concept among teams should be present in good times and bad.

There was no game ball for Josh Brent or some raucous post game speech. It was back to life and what is left of it.

We have taken sports as an elixir in times of turmoil as individuals and as a nation. On Sunday, Josh Brent needed to smell the popcorn, hear the cheering fans and watch his team keep their playoff hopes alive.

Josh Brent will push a lot to the deepest reaches of his mind. However, two things will never escape his memory, the night of December 8th and the comforting words of Stacey Jackson.

2 Responses to “Their Brother’s Keeper”

  1. D. N. says:

    *tears* Stacey Jackson made the choice and if it contributed to her own healing, it was the right thing to do. Beautifully written.

  2. CAvard says:

    This was the response I wanted to hear. Thanks Ron. I agree, it was beautifully written.